What is the traditional Halwa ceremony and what does it mean?

The traditional halwa ceremony, which takes place every year before the budget presentation in India, marks the start of the printing process of the government budget document. The ceremony also recognizes the efforts of every staff member who participated in the budgeting process.

The ceremony takes place in the presence of the Minister of Finance and other officials and clerks of the ministry. According to the ritual, the halwa is prepared in a large wok and served to officials of the Ministry of Finance who are directly associated with the budget.

After the sweet dish is served, officials and other staff are to stay in the basement of the finance ministry’s north block until the budget is tabled in parliament. These people, generally around a hundred, are even cut off from their families for a period of around 10 days to ensure the secrecy of budgetary details and avoid any leakage. Only senior officials are allowed to leave the northern block.

Last year, the number of people in the North Block was reduced as few could be accommodated due to COVID restrictions. Additionally, the budget was brought back to paperless form for the first time in independent India’s history in 2021 and as the budget went paperless there was no need for printing staff to be maintained in the northern block after the halwa ceremony.

Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman also launched the “Union Budget Mobile App” for hassle-free access to budget documents to Members of Parliament (MPs) and the public.

(Edited by : Anshul)

First publication: STI

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